With her one-of-a-kind artistic vision, Julie Taymor has wowed audiences with her 2002 Oscar®-winning film Frida and her dazzling stage adaptation of The Lion King. With its groundbreaking makeup and design, that production has racked up awards and delighted audiences around the world—including the students at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy. Oprah and her girls helped The Lion King celebrate its 10th anniversary at the South African opening.
"The next day, one of my little daughters, Thando—if you watched the special, she was the girl who said she wanted to be an actress—said, 'Mama Oprah, it was a feast for my soul,'" Oprah says. "She said, 'My eyes didn't know where to land. I couldn't take it all in, but it's all right here. I'm going to carry it for the rest of my life.'"
Julie's new film Across the Universe follows the lives of a group of young people living during the turbulent 1960s…told through the lyrics of 33 Beatles songs. Each song underpins the characters' emotional journeys and illustrates the political upheaval of that era. Just like the Beatles did in their music, the movie addresses topics ranging from young love to anti-war protest to civil rights to psychedelic drugs.
While the stories of Jude, Lucy, Sadie and JoJo are told in musical interludes, Julie packs those moments with dazzling special effects, animation and puppetry. The combination of songs and visuals—and famous cameos from musicians and actors like Salma Hayek and Bono—add up to a stroke of genius unlike anything you've ever seen.
Julie says making a film as unique as Across the Universe with a mostly unknown cast was "daunting." "Evan Rachel Wood [who plays Lucy] is very well known. But we are introducing to people five more tremendous young stars," Julie says. "And that takes a lot of risk on the part of the producers. And they backed it."
After nearly everything in the film was complete, Julie faced her ultimate test…screening Across the Universe for ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney.
"It was the most terrifying moment," she says. "I just felt that ultimately, that was it. I got to do the movie and sit with him and have him see it. And he sat next to me and when 'All My Loving' started, he sang under his breath. That was it!"
What did he think? "At the end I did the classic thing. I said, 'Was there anything you didn't like?' He said, 'What's not to like?' And it was just those words."
Cast members Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Dana Fuchs and Martin Luther
McCoy perform a medley of Beatles songs featured in Across the Universe—"Blackbird," "All My Loving" and "Don't Let Me Down."
sang along with a show-stopping rendition of "All You Need Is
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